Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Alito, pt 2: is Vanguard the key?

Ted Kennedy has an op-ed in the Washington Post,
Alito's Credibility Problem”, in which he mentions the judge's application with the Reagan Justice department in 1985, in which he criticized Roe v Wade. In a 1990 confirmation process Kennedy questioned him about it and Alito reportedly said "I was just a 35-year-old seeking a job." (35 is the new 19...)

But I wonder if the democrats will get more traction from a conflict-of-interest issue:

On a questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee in his court-of-appeals confirmation process in 1990, Alito said he would avoid a conflict of interest by not voting on cases involving First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, NY, and two investment firms, Smith Barney and Vanguard Group because he held accounts with them. However, in 2002 Alito upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit filed against multiple investment company defendants, including the Vanguard Group. When notified of the situation, Alito denied doing anything improper but recused himself from further involvement in the case.

On November 10 [2005], Judge Alito wrote Senator Specter,the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee explaining his participation in the case. He said that when he had originally listed Vanguard and Smith Barney in 1990, "my intention was to state that I would never knowingly hear a case where a conflict of interest existed. [...] As my service continued,
I realized that I had been unduly restrictive."
(from Wikipedia's Samuel Alito entry, of all places.)

Many of the issues for which the democrats could take Alito to task are obscure to ordinary people. But Alito looking the other way and allowing a mutual fund company to get the desicion they want is something that a lot of ordinary Americans can wrap their heads around, especially as it subtly underlines his wealth, counterpointed by how many people have lost substantial value on their retirement investments since the GOP took over.

photo of a Vanguard Six, a British car from the 50s-60s(and utterly unrelated to mutual funds.)